Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Weddings, honeymoon sunsets–in Kota Kinabalu

LIKE many an ancient place, the origins of Kota Kinabalu’s name are tucked away in legend. A Chinese woman, it is said, pined for her husband’s return for years and years after the man went back to, and eventually died in, mainland China. In her honor, the towering mountain that dominates the Sabah skies –and the rest of Southeast Asia – was named Kinabalu (“Chinese widow”). And the city that now serves as the capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah was christened Kota Kinabalu (“City of Chinese widows”).

Despite the sad tenor of that beloved myth, a pleasant reversal of sorts has happened to Kota Kinabalu. The city, according to two top hotels in the area, has increasingly become a preferred destination in Southeast Asia for weddings and honeymoons because of its scenic, unspoiled surroundings and first-rate amenities for travelers.

“Many visitors who come here to wed or to spend their honeymoon are from Japan, Korea, the UK, Australia and Europe,” says Jun Cordova, sales director of Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, one of two sprawling Shangri-La hotels in Kota Kinabalu.

Most of these weddings happen in the balmy month of January. The resort has a full-time wedding planner and an array of customizable wedding packages and venues (up to 1,000 guests in the largest ballroom) to cater to all manner of bridal events.

Christian populace

Unlike the rest of Malaysia, Sabah, a state of 3.3 million people, has a large Christian population – about 40 percent, mostly Catholic. Only 15-17 percent are Muslim. Christian wedding rites are thus easy to arrange in Kota Kinabalu, with a residency requirement of only seven working days for a couple to be wed.

The Catholic parish covering the Tanjung Aru resort dispenses permission and services for weddings held in the hotel (in the case of foreigners, often outdoors – by the beach, in the gardens or even at the hotel rooftop).

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Weddings, honeymoon sunsets–in Kota Kinabalu

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